Nurse struck off after bungling examination of Barlinnie prisoner who died from heart attack


nmc logoA NURSE has been struck off after bungling the examination of a prisoner who later died of a heart attack.

Jennifer Stirling did not arrange for Barlinnie prisoner Allan Wales, who was serving a 27-month sentence for assault and robbery, to see a doctor.

She also failed to take his pulse during a consultation on 28 January 2009.

Wales, from Linwood, Renfrewshire, died of a heart attack just over a month later – just days after the death of his three-month-old son Dylan.

His family have said the nurse’s errors have ruined their lives.

A sheriff has previously ruled Wales’ death could have been avoided.

A Nursing and Midwifery Council hearing this week ruled that Mrs Stirling should be struck off, saying she brought the nursing profession into disrepute.

At earlier hearings in Edinburgh she admitted failing to take his pulse and blood pressure during their consultation inside Barlinnie, and a further charge she failed to arrange for him to be seen by a doctor was found proved.

She also admitted failing to record “details of the relevant family health history.”

Wales had requested to see a prison doctor, writing in a note: “I’ve been getting pains round about my heart and there is a lot of history of heart problems in my family and I would like it checked out.”

When he saw Mrs Stirling at the nurse’s clinic on 28 January, he again stressed he had pains around his heart, and she wrote in her notes “prisoner anxious of this listed to be seen to be seen at dr [doctor’s] clinic.”

But there was a delay of one month before he was seen by a doctor, when he was only given painkillers.

Wales was found dead in his cell on the day he was due to visit Dylan’s body.

Mrs Stirling was suspended and resigned in April 2011, after her employers carried out an investigation into the incident.

In correspondence with the NMC, Mrs Stirling said the prisoner was “one of the most difficult’ cases she had dealt with, and he wasanxious and ‘strenuously refused’ repeated requests to allow her to adequately assess him.

But other prison staff described him as an “approachable, amicable” prisoner, the NMC panel was told.

She further claimed she had spoken to a doctor asking him to see Wales, but NMC panel chair Kenneth Caley said: “The panel noted that Mrs Stirling had referred to speaking to ‘the doctor’ in her written submissions.

“All the witnesses were questioned on this aspect but none could recall the registrant naming the doctor she had claimed to have spoken to.”

Mr Caley continued: “The panel was concerned that [Mr Wales] was complaining of cardiac related symptoms and Mrs Stirling failed to ensure that he was provided with access to adequate medical treatment and failed to make a referral to the doctor.

“The panel considers that [Wales] was put at serious risk of potential harm.

“She contributed to the delay in him not being seen urgently by a medical professional and the potential early diagnosis and treatment of his disease.”

Announcing the panel’s decision to strike her off, Mr Caley said she showed a “persistent lack of insight into the consequences of her actions.”

Mrs Stirling was not present at the hearing in Edinburgh.

Sheriff John Baird has previously described Mrs Stirling’s claim’s as “surprising if not astonishing” in a fatal accident inquiry.

Mr Wales’s widow Gillian has said: “There is no justice for me or for my family.

“”How can this be allowed to happen to people? How can one nurse ruin my life, my family’s lives, and walk away from it all?